Risk stratification and medical therapy of pulmonary arterial hypertension

Eur Respir J. 2019 Jan 24;53(1):1801889. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01889-2018. Print 2019 Jan.


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains a severe clinical condition despite the availability over the past 15 years of multiple drugs interfering with the endothelin, nitric oxide and prostacyclin pathways. The recent progress observed in medical therapy of PAH is not, therefore, related to the discovery of new pathways, but to the development of new strategies for combination therapy and on escalation of treatments based on systematic assessment of clinical response. The current treatment strategy is based on the severity of the newly diagnosed PAH patient as assessed by a multiparametric risk stratification approach. Clinical, exercise, right ventricular function and haemodynamic parameters are combined to define a low-, intermediate- or high-risk status according to the expected 1-year mortality. The current treatment algorithm provides the most appropriate initial strategy, including monotherapy, or double or triple combination therapy. Further treatment escalation is required in case low-risk status is not achieved in planned follow-up assessments. Lung transplantation may be required in most advanced cases on maximal medical therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Channel Blockers / therapeutic use
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lung Transplantation
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors